BOSTON — Jahlil Okafor was one of the players who did not travel with the Sixers to Boston. Unlike Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz and T.J. McConnell, the reason was not related to injuries or rest.
Okafor is out of the rotation. Rather than sit on the bench in TD Garden, Okafor could use the time on the practice court in Camden, New Jersey. He stayed back Thursday during the one-game road trip for individualized training.
“[We are] trying to get him in a place that we can do whatever we can do to help him move forward, to move his career forward,” Brett Brown said. “If it’s not going to be in Philly, to make sure that we create an environment that he knows he’s cared for, that we are doing everything we can to keep his body right and his mind right and his fitness up.”
Okafor has played a total of 25 minutes over two games this season, his third in the league. He made it known after the Sixers did not pick up his contract option that he would like to be bought out or traded. Neither scenario has been reached in the month since then.
It seems likely the Sixers will make a deal before the deadline as they look to get something in return for the former No. 3 overall pick. Brown wants Okafor to be prepared to play in that case.
“At any point, somebody could tell him he’s traded,” Brown said. “He’ll be on a plane and he’s going to roll into a city and expect to be able to perform. When that moment, if that moment happens, we want to do everything we can to help him.”
It has yet to be determined if the Sixers will implement the same approach for their next road trip, starting Dec. 9 in Cleveland. Okafor also was inactive for the Sixers’ home game on Wednesday while Nik Stauskas (ankle) was taken off the inactive list and cleared to play.
Fultz in Kentucky
Brown reiterated the Sixers are not pushing Fultz, who is dealing with right shoulder soreness and scapular muscle imbalance, back on the court.
Fultz is in Kentucky receiving physical therapy on his shoulder with Dr. Ben Kibler, Medical Director of the Shoulder Center of Kentucky at the Lexington Clinic. The Sixers announced on Nov. 19 Fultz would be reevaluated in “approximately two to three weeks,” which hasn’t happened yet.
“I think the defining moment is probably going to end up being, we’re going to look at his shot,” Brown said. “He’s going to go to the free throw line and we’re all going to say, does it pass the eye test?
“He’s not there yet. He’s just not there yet. Everything is moving forward, but it’s not anything that we’re going to rush. There needs to be a tremendous confidence level that he has and a health-related confidence that our medical people have. As far as a timeline of what that all means, we don’t know. But I can tell you his heart is in the right place. His work ethic is great.”